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Little Knights Learning Center opening in August
May 11, 2018

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After more than a year of concentrated effort by Wanda Petersen and members of the Dysart community, Little Knights Learning Center for infants to 12 year olds will open at Dysart Elementary on August 1.

"There's always been a lack of infant daycare in Dysart," Petersen, a member of the Dysart Development Corporation said. "There have been in-home daycares that come and go over the years, but they may not take infants. That creates a challenge for new moms and dads in the area."

The idea for a daycare came at her daughter's bachelorette party, with several young mothers concerned about their lack of options. Initially, the idea was to create a senior center and have the daycare inside, allowing the seniors an opportunity to enjoy the infants and the children to learn from these seniors. Surveys were sent into the community, with a resounding response for more daycare. While the senior center idea didn't move forward, another idea did gather steam: D-G Elementary.

"The idea for a daycare stemmed from a conversation about enrollment declining and what could school district in conjunction with the communities do about this decline," Union CSD Superintendent Travis Fleshner The issue of daycare, or lack of, was brought up and a conversation started. The Little Knight Learning Center committee in Dysart was developed and they have been instrumental in moving this project forward."

Fleshner and the committee discussed a location for this daycare, choosing three rooms in the school to host the Little Knights Learning Center. After approval by the Union Board of Education, the rooms were modified to be compliant with DHS standards. Pre-enrollment numbers are currently set at 50 six month old children to 12 year olds.

"It's exciting to see this come to fruition," Petersen said. "As weird as this sounds, our goal is to one day get kicked out of school, that we have too many kids for the three rooms. Eventually, we hope to find or build a location, which means families will have moved into the community. To me, that's the exciting part, to hopefully help the community and school system."

The district will move classes and staff in those particular rooms to other space in the elementary school. Currently, Petersen and the committee are interviewing candidates for a director and will be required to hire eight to ten staff members to meet the child to adult ratio requirements. Both the committee and Fleshner has high hopes for the center and the opportunities it can bring.

"I feel supporting the development of a daycare in Dysart serves many needs," Fleshner said. "First it addresses an identified community need for the town of Dysart and offers the community a service it can market to current families and future new families moving to Dysart. The school district will only benefit from having a larger licensed daycare provider available within the community. As part of our research and development, we visited other communities with school incorporated daycares and all of the school districts referenced the positive impacts the daycare had on their communities and school districts."

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